The metalcut emerged as a distinct form of relief printmaking in around 1450. In contrast to the related form of the woodcut or woodblock print, the visual aspect of prints created by this technique is determined less by the outlines of the raised bridges, and is instead largely defined by the remaining surfaces of the metal plate, left behind after the lines (which appear white on the paper) have been cut away with knives. This depiction of Calvary numbers among the most spectacular examples of works produced by this technique. The figures are shown in front of a patterned background similar to wallpaper. The halo of the crucified Christ is adorned with gold leaf, with the effect that it stands out particularly stridently against the dark background. The despairing gestures of Christ’s followers, overcome with grief, constitute a particularly moving element of the work. The near-sculptural quality of the mourning woman, portrayed from behind on the right-hand side of the picture, recalls Upper Rhenish painting and the circle of Konrad Witz, an artist active in Basel around 1440. The metal cutter has been sure to include his sign at the very bottom of the picture.


  • Title: Calvary
  • Creator: unknown
  • Date: c. 1450/1460 - 1460
  • Physical Dimensions: w11.5 x h17.5 cm
  • Type: Print
  • Medium: Dotted print, lacquer red, green, light yellow and light brown colored
  • Inv.-No.: 218-1
  • ISIL no.: DE-MUS-018511
  • External Link: Kupferstichkabinett, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin
  • Copyright: Photo © bpk - Photo Agency / Kupferstichkabinett, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Preußischer Kulturbesitz / Jörg P. Anders │ Text © Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Preußischer Kulturbesitz / Holm Bevers
  • Collection: Kupferstichkabinett, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Preußischer Kulturbesitz
  • Artist Gender: Male

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